Saturday, November 24, 2007

Different lenses

My friend Monica sent me an email for Thanksgiving with a simple message: "Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." I had never thought of emotions as having a specific direction, though it makes sense. Sorry does have its root in the past, worry has us looking around to see how we are being judged or what may be coming at us, and faith casts our gaze upward. I wonder if the converse is true as well - can the direction we choose to look incite certain emotions?

If I want to embody faith and hope, then I may spend more time looking forward, especially during times of reflection. Looking out into my future so to speak, and imagining happiness and success, however I define those. I have a tendency to beat myself up for past mistakes, big ans small. Spending energy being sorry, especially for things that are long since past forces us to look back. This is especially damaging since once we do apologize and forgive, there is nothing more we can do about the past.

I've written on this blog before about my tendency toward worry. A certain amount of worry can keep us on our toes, keep us motivated. But there's a tipping point where worry can paralyze us from ever moving ahead. It's okay to look around, as long as it's done in moderation of looking up.

And that balance applies to all emotions. Experiencing a full range of emotions keeps us empathic, humble, and appreciative of the good times. Some people think that the goal of Buddhists is constant happiness. From the texts I have read, Buddhists are more interested in moving through an emotional array, experiencing all that life has to offer. Physically an emotionally, it seems that we would all do well to have a full range of motion.

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